Melee attacks against a grabbing / restraining creature's appendage, and grabbers / restrainers vs. Resilient Sphere and Wall of Force


Playing the Game


Is it possible to make melee attacks against a grabbing/restraining creature's appendange? For example, suppose a kraken's arm is grabbing/restraining a character from 60 feet away. Can the character make melee attacks against the kraken's arm that way, or is that impossible, because the kraken is ultimately 60 feet away? If the character can indeed attack the kraken's arm, what does that actually do to the kraken?

Similarly, is it possible for spells like resilient sphere (whether cast upon the grabbed/restrained creature or the grabber/restrainer) and wall of force (when cast between the grabbed/restrained creature and the grabber/restrainer) to interrupt a grab/restrain, or would such spells be invalid?

Resilient sphere says:

Quote:
You create an immobile sphere of force around the target’s space to either trap or protect it, blocking anything that would cross through the sphere.

Wall of force says:

Quote:
If the wall’s surface would be broken by any creature or object, the spell is lost.

These matters came up when running the kraken battle in Red Flags (thread the first, thread the second), and I ruled in favor of the kraken. Ideally, I should not have had to make such rulings in the first place; the rules should have been more precise on how grabs/restrains work, and how spells like resilient sphere and wall of force interact with grabs.


I would also rule that the wall of force / sphere would fail when cast to try to break an ongoing grapple. They'd obviously stop a grapple from happening if cast beforehand, but you can't cast them through another creature.


Colette Brunel wrote:
Is it possible to make melee attacks against a grabbing/restraining creature's appendange? For example, suppose a kraken's arm is grabbing/restraining a character from 60 feet away. Can the character make melee attacks against the kraken's arm that way, or is that impossible, because the kraken is ultimately 60 feet away? If the character can indeed attack the kraken's arm, what does that actually do to the kraken?

RAW answer is probably that you can't attack the kraken if its body is out of your reach. The kraken is officially only in its own space on the map.

Though I would unhesitatingly house-rule that you can attack the tentacles because (a) it makes things more fun for the players, and (b) it makes sense to me. I would probably say that it's exactly the same as attacking any other part of the body, to save on having to make up more rules than I have to.


Can you cast Wall of Force on a dragons neck? If you do, does it sever the head from the body?

No.

That kind of "I win" use for spells is pretty clearly not intended. One mid-level spell should not be decapitating dragons.

If it can't decapitate a dragon, then it can't de-tentacle a kraken. Or even make it lose its grip.

If you can't do this stuff with a Wall of Force, then it's reasonable that you can't do this stuff with any other spells like Resilient Sphere.


Can a PC hit a kraken's tentacle? No.

Here are some similar questions: Can I hit the hand of an ogre who is trying to club me from 10' away even though I can't reach the ogre's space with my sword? Can I hit the nose of a dragon when it bites me even though I can't reach its space with my sword? My opponent is adjacent to me with a sword and shield, can I hit his arm when he attacks me so he can't get his shield bonus to AC (because his arm is sticking out past his shield)? My enemy is wearing full plate but no helmet, can I just hit his unarmored head where he has no AC modifier for armor?

All of these questions deal with the same thing: the enemy's "body" is either out of reach or not an ideal target so I would rather hit an appendage or head to ignore the difficulty of hitting its body.

And all of the answers are "No, the rules don't really allow that".

On the other hand, or on the other tentacle as the case may be, I always allow strikes against an enemy's limb if it has already established a grapple/grab. I mean, if the tentacle is waving around trying to grab somebody, it's hard to hit, but once it grabs them and then its just sitting there, mostly an unmoving easy target, telling players "Nope, some mysterious force in the universe prevents you from attacking that giant tentacle that is squeezing the life from your friend right there in front of you" seems unnecessarily unrealistic.


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Personally, I'd also allow anyone to ready an attack against a limb being used for a reach attack, such as that dragon's bite. It's very grounded in the fiction and will rarely if ever mess up the balance of something.

The examples of hitting an unshieled arm or unhelmeted head feel like a too-literal interpretation of AC, which is a nebulous thing. And if you want to introduce a called shot subsystem and sectioned armour to augment it, that's a valid thing, just more fine detail than most people want.

Personally, I find the idea of creature's attacking with spectral bites that can't be interacted with, and grappling with spectral tentacles that do nothing but apply the grappled condition (and block Wall of Force) to be very silly. It might be sensible to clarify those situations somewhere between the size, reach, and reaction rules.


My (system neutral) house-rule answers:

DM_Blake wrote:
Can I hit the hand of an ogre who is trying to club me from 10' away even though I can't reach the ogre's space with my sword?

No, but you can of course try to sunder / disarm the club.

DM_Blake wrote:
Can I hit the nose of a dragon when it bites me even though I can't reach its space with my sword?

Sure, with a readied action or whatever.

DM_Blake wrote:
My opponent is adjacent to me with a sword and shield, can I hit his arm when he attacks me so he can't get his shield bonus to AC (because his arm is sticking out past his shield)? My enemy is wearing full plate but no helmet, can I just hit his unarmored head where he has no AC modifier for armor?

"Roll to hit as normal. Did you hit? Then you achieved your goal and do your normal damage. Did you miss? Then you failed to achieve your aim and accidentally hit the shield / plate mail instead."

(Because adding Called Shots is likely to unbalance the game, unlike the 'reach' rule calls above.)


In PF1 you had a feat specifically to do the attack against a creatures body part, Strike Back. I always thought it was a stupidly bad feat (in the fact that it created a feat to do something most people assumed you could do).

I'm of the opinion that if you ready an action to do so, or if they somehow have an apendage on you from a distance (something that could grapple you from 10+ feet away) that you can strike them. It makes sense to me.

But as to the OPs questions, the spells simply fail to work. You try to create the spell where there is material intervening and it doesn't work. You can't break the grapple in this way.


Resilient sphere doesn't make the specification that the spell fails if broken by any creature or object. I appreciate the position that it shouldn't but there simply is no preclusion for such.

I'd say that if a Kraken (as is our example) is grappling you it's not too ridiculous to suggest that he's got some healthily sized appendages and at the end of the day the sphere will only serve to prevent you from taking two constricts worth of damage. This will vary pretty wildly from creature to creature but it's the thing that makes the most sense in my head given the lack of RAW denial.


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There needs to be a clarification in the Grab Special rule (an ideally in the grapple description as well), similar to the Swallow Whole rule, as to how you attack the appendage and how much damage is needed to free you.
Not to cut off the appendage, just to force it to let you go.
This is a far too common Scenario to be limited to specific Monster descriptions.


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Kerx wrote:
Resilient sphere doesn't make the specification that the spell fails if broken by any creature or object. I appreciate the position that it shouldn't but there simply is no preclusion for such.

Whenever a spell says something like:

Quote:
A globe of shimmering force encloses a creature, provided the creature is small enough to fit within the diameter of the sphere. The sphere contains its subject for the spell’s duration. The sphere functions as a wall of force, except that it can be negated by dispel magic. A subject inside the sphere can breathe normally. The sphere cannot be physically moved either by people outside it or by the struggles of those within.

It means if functions like that spell except where the spell specifies it's different.

So Resilient sphere inherits Wall of Force's issue which says:

Quote:
The caster can form the wall into a flat, vertical plane whose area is up to one 10-foot square per level. The wall must be continuous and unbroken when formed. If its surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails


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DerNils wrote:

There needs to be a clarification in the Grab Special rule (an ideally in the grapple description as well), similar to the Swallow Whole rule, as to how you attack the appendage and how much damage is needed to free you.

Not to cut off the appendage, just to force it to let you go.
This is a far too common Scenario to be limited to specific Monster descriptions.

In first edition it was not so common because you moved the grappled character to a space near the one who was grappling.

Since this is not a thing anymore, attacking limbs become a lot more important


Even in 1st it was strange that you could not specifically attack a limb to let you go, but at least it didn't leave you in a strange Limbo of the limb being there/not being there.
And I agree that "Strike back" was a feat that should never have existed - a prime example of a feat forbidding things players should have been able to do without it.


There's insufficient specificity regarding what is required for the wall to be broken for any raw ruling on the topic. As it stands you can't cast the spell flush to walls or floor if there's rubble or books or something scattered about.

The strictest interpretation would require that the wall be an unbroken solid shape. There's no specific requirement for this, but "unbroken" could mean that making a hole for a creature or object currently in the area is not permitted. If resilient sphere inherits that restriction you need to time the casting with your friend hopping a bit.

Grab and the grabbed condition are also incomplete. There's no necessity to maintain contact, it ends if you move regardless of your reach and the restriction on moving isn't "taking actions with the move trait" so you can be moved to end the grapple as well.

The rules aught to be formatted in a way that allows resolution for chosen actions rather than restricting actions themselves.

Whether or not a character is occupying space across which they are interacting could also use some explanation. Could you put up a wall of force to stop someone from trying to pick a lock, or are they already interacting with the device enough to prevent the wall's occupation of that space? What about threatening a foe, is that enough to be crossing the border? Could the kraken extend its unused limbs in all directions to prevent walls from being an option?

Honestly though, creating the wall as close to the tentacle as possible and otherwise filling the opening should make it too difficult to continue the grapple and force it to end.


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People are constantly telling me that I should have been allowing people to attack the kraken's tentacles in my run of Red Flags.

My logic here is that hydras have a rule for attacking their heads, and ropers have a rule for attacking their tentacles, but krakens lack such a rule.


Colette Brunel wrote:

People are constantly telling me that I should have been allowing people to attack the kraken's tentacles in my run of Red Flags.

My logic here is that hydras have a rule for attacking their heads, and ropers have a rule for attacking their tentacles, but krakens lack such a rule.

And your logic involves completely ignoring actual logic.

Silver Crusade

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Edge93 wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:

People are constantly telling me that I should have been allowing people to attack the kraken's tentacles in my run of Red Flags.

My logic here is that hydras have a rule for attacking their heads, and ropers have a rule for attacking their tentacles, but krakens lack such a rule.

And your logic involves completely ignoring actual logic.

Edge, we get it. You really, really, really dislike the way Colette does things.

But you're taking it too far. She sees a clear issue and starts this thread about it. That is a GOOD thing.

And, this thread makes it clear that
1) There IS support for her position
2) It is CLEARLY a place where what happens just isn't at all clear
3) NOBODY so far has come up with a good interpretation of what happens (I'm defining good as "justified by the rules" AND "Makes sense in world").

Colette IS trying to improve the game and is almost certainly having more impact on the game that just about any other poster (except perhaps deadmanwalking). The issues that she is finding ARE valid ones.

Her GMing and playtesting style isn't yours. Thats fine. Its not mine either. I'd HATE to be a player at her table. But Paizo needs EVERY playtesting and GMing style to contribute and comment.

She IS doing a good job. She really is.


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pauljathome wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:

People are constantly telling me that I should have been allowing people to attack the kraken's tentacles in my run of Red Flags.

My logic here is that hydras have a rule for attacking their heads, and ropers have a rule for attacking their tentacles, but krakens lack such a rule.

And your logic involves completely ignoring actual logic.

Edge, we get it. You really, really, really dislike the way Colette does things.

But you're taking it too far. She sees a clear issue and starts this thread about it. That is a GOOD thing.

And, this thread makes it clear that
1) There IS support for her position
2) It is CLEARLY a place where what happens just isn't at all clear
3) NOBODY so far has come up with a good interpretation of what happens (I'm defining good as "justified by the rules" AND "Makes sense in world").

Colette IS trying to improve the game and is almost certainly having more impact on the game that just about any other poster (except perhaps deadmanwalking). The issues that she is finding ARE valid ones.

Her GMing and playtesting style isn't yours. Thats fine. Its not mine either. I'd HATE to be a player at her table. But Paizo needs EVERY playtesting and GMing style to contribute and comment.

She IS doing a good job. She really is.

Sigh... forgive me. You are right here. I do perhaps harp overmuch and this certainly wasn't the spot to do it. This thread is actually much more earnest in tone than some such that I have seen, I should have taken note of that before I posted.

I suppose a lot of my problem lies in presentation, a lot of these various issues are presented in (to me at least) very antagonizing ways, things like taking multiple TPKs by running with an obvious rules error with a predictable outcome instead of working around it and then posting in a more neutral manner rather than "This obviously erroneous rule made us TPK again" or things like threads that feel like they should just be a highlight/acknowledgement of a potential formatting error that are instead treated as a major rules problems that make certain things happen that are clearly actually disallowed by the rules (such as that crit success and fail thread that got locked with similar comments as to the approach of the post).

I do know that Colette has found a lot of various errors in the rules (And as I have said before I appreciate this), and even if they bear obvious adjucation they are things that need to be clarified. I feel it is unproductive to present these issues from the standpoint of stubbornly using them despite the obvious problems caused rather than simply pointing them out on a forums as clear problems. I feel the latter is more likely to provide productive discussion or acknowledgement while the former just is more likely to make people automatically defensive, a mistake I have certainly made throughout here.

Like it feels like it would be better to point our that not being able to attack reach grapplers is a terrible thing rather than have a hundred back and forth posts arguing whether or not it's right to run a campaign with the inability to do so. Though perhaps it's not my business to insist so on things being presented in a way palatable to me.

IN ANY CASE, I do agree that I stepped out of bounds here and I do apologize for that. This thread in fact has presented an important rules blip in exactly such a matter as I find productive and so I really had no business sniping over here.

And as an aside to Colette, I do hope your health/recovery issues resolve well. As much as a great many things in these various arguments may tick me off to many varying and diverse degrees I truly bear you no true malice, and I hope the strain of your Playtest schedule has not caused you any long-term troubles.

And I hope you will be able to have a better time of running PF2 outside of the Playtest, either having your various issues fixed or simply making the relatively minor tweaks required to fix a lot of the issues with RAW.

And as an additional aside I do suppose a lot of these issues are more important than I give credit for. Mainly for the sake of inexperienced GMs. Many of them seem trivial to me because I would just be like "Rules don't say you can attack a grappler? That's stupid. Of course you can.". But thinking back on my start as a GM, where I was super strict RAW and had a hard time with any unexpected player actions or derailment (Not by like being a Nazi but rather being inexperienced and unsure of myself to where I didn't know how to handle anything that didn't fit neatly into the exact rules I knew), I would have struggled with things like that. I can't say whether new-GM-me would have struggled more with the Playtest than with PF1, but that's hardly the issue.

In closing, while I hold my reservations about a lot of Colette things I very much overstepped my bounds here, and perhaps my attitude in general has become too vitriolic as things have built. I don't expect I shall cease voicing my objections where they -are- warranted but I shall seek to check my behavior ere it slips again. I have referred to "beating a dead horse" on some issues I have and so it is unbefitting for me to essentially do the same in my approach to these topics.


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I disagree also that the idea that you can't attack the grabbing appendage violates logic.

Why? Because it makes grabbing, for creatures with reach, such a bad idea.

As I mentioned elsethread, consider an RL example. Only a moron would attempt to grab or hug onto an assailant with a knife if they knew that they could not insodoing prevent that knife being used on them.

The rule seems to be assuming that we are talking about regular snakes who try to constrict armed opponents because they have no concept of being armed. But the idea that fully sentient creatures would consider "grapple" a realistic attack option in that situation is daft. The Star-Spawn of Cthulhu has a ranged grapple and is Int +6, more intelligent than any human could ever be. Is it really plausible that it would think it a good idea to wrap vulnerable, soft tentacle flesh around a person with a sword, knowing (as it would) that it will not effectively prevent the use of that sword? (It might not know that the flat check is rather easy, but it would know that when it grappled things before they weren't all that bothered.)

And yes, that does mean that "grapple" shouldn't be in their Bestiary attack routines. If you are about to say that "well they CAN grapple but it's just a bad idea" then I'll respond that "anything CAN try to grapple but it will be a bad idea" - a wendigo, for example, seems to have no reason it couldn't try to grab someone, it's just not a good attack for it and therefore doesn't appear in its stat block.

So here's the logic: Any intelligent creature that considered ranged grappling part of its combat repertoire in the Pathfinder world would have developed some way to avoid having its grappling limb attacked.


hyphz wrote:

I disagree also that the idea that you can't attack the grabbing appendage violates logic.

Why? Because it makes grabbing, for creatures with reach, such a bad idea.

As I mentioned elsethread, consider an RL example. Only a moron would attempt to grab or hug onto an assailant with a knife if they knew that they could not insodoing prevent that knife being used on them.

The rule seems to be assuming that we are talking about regular snakes who try to constrict armed opponents because they have no concept of being armed. But the idea that fully sentient creatures would consider "grapple" a realistic attack option in that situation is daft. The Star-Spawn of Cthulhu has a ranged grapple and is Int +6, more intelligent than any human could ever be. Is it really plausible that it would think it a good idea to wrap vulnerable, soft tentacle flesh around a person with a sword, knowing (as it would) that it will not effectively prevent the use of that sword? (It might not know that the flat check is rather easy, but it would know that when it grappled things before they weren't all that bothered.)

And yes, that does mean that "grapple" shouldn't be in their Bestiary attack routines. If you are about to say that "well they CAN grapple but it's just a bad idea" then I'll respond that "anything CAN try to grapple but it will be a bad idea" - a wendigo, for example, seems to have no reason it couldn't try to grab someone, it's just not a good attack for it and therefore doesn't appear in its stat block.

So here's the logic: Any intelligent creature that considered ranged grappling part of its combat repertoire in the Pathfinder world would have developed some way to avoid having its grappling limb attacked.

That does seem logical, but just how would you learn to prevent it? If we're talking like pining their sword arm then that does make sense, but not as an automatic thing that occurs on a successful grab. In fact though, a normal grapple attempt does just that on a Crit, so it's represented there but maybe not as well as it could be.

Also as this mirrors your post on the similar thread I will mirror my reply as well so as not to just try to inaccurately repeat myself here.

As to attacking a reach grappler I personally disagree that it's too strong. It does flat-foot and immobilize your opponent, so it will weaken them and ensure they are in your reach or otherwise burn actions escaping. If it's a foe who has no problem with just standing around in your reach and hacking at you then grabbing them may just be a bad idea in general, similar to how grappling Monks in PF1 was a bad idea. Also most reach grapplers have additional abilities that key off of grab and if not then I think they can escalate grab to something like PF1 pinned. I'm not sure there though and don't have the book on hand.


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Pinned should definitely be added back to the game and would solve this issue nicely.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Pinned should definitely be added back to the game and would solve this issue nicely.

The PF2 Restrained condition works nicely but the fact that it only applies a round at a time on crit success grapples is problematic, allowing it to follow from grappled on an additional attempt somehow would help a lot.


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Edge93, the apology is accepted. You handle your playtesting your way, and I handle my playtesting my way.

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